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Do Textual Critics Have to be Radical Skeptics? Guest Post by Kurt Jaros

Here now is the sixth and final video post by Kurt Jaros, connected to my views of Textual Criticism.  As you know, Kurt is a conservative evangelical apologist who, unlike some others, is openminded about issues of biblical scholarship.  May his tribe increase.  Here he argues that the fact we have different manuscripts of the NT with different wording does not necessarily have to lead to a deeply skeptical view of the Bible. ****************************** Misquoting Ehrman – Part Six: Reject Radical Skepticism How does radical skepticism creep into some people's minds when they think about textual criticism? In this last episode of Misquoting Ehrman, I provide an important distinction which demonstrates how radical skepticism does not follow from the manuscript evidence we have. Then, I recap the series. Thanks for viewing!  

2022-03-21T17:46:38-04:00March 31st, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts|

The Most Violent Passage in Revelation, in My View:

From where I sit, the harshest most violent passage in Revelation is not one that dispenses with a third of the human race in one verse or describes a horde of locusts that will sting everyone on earth except God’s close followers and cause unbearable physical agony for five months that cannot be relieved and that they cannot escape even by dying – i.e., they are not allowed to end it all.  OK, maybe that one is the worst.  But in terms of awfulness, this for me is the one, as I discuss in the lecture I gave on Revelation recently.  In the previous post I mentioned two of the worst.  Here’s *the* worst. ****************************** The third passage shows that Christ directs his violence not only against pagans and Jews but also against his own followers, even active leaders and teachers in his church. The tenuous standing of Jesus’ followers is a leading theme of his letters to the seven churches of in chapters 2 and 3.  Christ regularly threatens to remove his favor and [...]

2022-03-31T10:05:58-04:00March 30th, 2022|Public Forum, Revelation of John|

Two of the Most Violent Passages in Revelation

I continue here with my discussion of the violence in the book of Revelation as taken from a recent lecture I gave.  As is clear, I find it incredible that so many well-meaning scholars want to insist that its not *actually* violent.  OK, then.   As I've indicated, chs. 6-16 are a three-part series of disasters, 7 seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath each, bringing war, death, economic collapse, starvation, torment, natural disaster, and cosmic disruption (with other things).  I pick up there in what follows:   ******************************   And as awful as they are, the seals, trumpets, and bowls are not the most violent parts of the book.  Three other passages compete for that dubious honor. The first comes as an interlude between the seven trumpets and the seven bowls of God’s wrath (14:14-20).  Here we have another vision of “one like the Son of Man” (Christ) who is seated on a cloud, wearing a golden crown and carrying a sharp sickle (14:14).  It is not an auspicious image.  An angel emerges from the [...]

2022-03-22T10:21:28-04:00March 29th, 2022|Public Forum, Revelation of John|

Does Paul Condemn Slavery? The Surprising Answer–Paul and Philemon

This past week I received a question from a reader about the book of Philemon.  The last time that happened ... well, actually, I think it has happened only once before in the history of the blog!   And now that vibrant and widespread interest has been raised, it is a good time to address  it again!  Seriously, it involves an unusually intriguing question.  What was Paul's view of slavery? Philemon provides an unexpected answer, at least as I read it.  This is the shortest of Paul’s letters (it’s a one-pager) where he is writing to his convert Philemon, a rich slave owner, asking him to receive back into his good graces his run-away slave Onesimus. So what was *that* all about?  Here is the question and my response.   QUESTION: From your writing about Greco Roman notions of dominance as status, it seems that the simple manumission of a slave was not a de facto improvement in status, because a man with no wealth, power, or influence was about as low on the ladder as [...]

2022-03-22T10:22:28-04:00March 27th, 2022|Paul and His Letters|

What Do You Think? Is There a Reason to Be Religious If There Is No Afterlife?

I’ve enjoyed getting readers’ opinions on topics over the past few months, and now I’d like to hear what you think about another, which strikes me as unusually important.  It has to do with the afterlife. The traditional Christian belief, of course, is that when a person dies, their soul either goes to heaven to be rewarded for eternity or to hell to be punished, for the same length of time.  (“Length of time” and “time” itself no longer make much sense in eternity, of course.  Eternity is infinite, not long.  Though admittedly eternal ecstasy or torment sure seems long….). Many Christians today are moving away from an idea of hell, to think either in terms of temporary punishment, or annihilation, or …. something else. Many others, including me, do not think there is an afterlife at all.  Like the other animals, we simply cease to exist. Here I am NOT asking for your opinions about whether there *is* an afterlife or about what it is *like* if you do.  (If you don’t know, I [...]

2022-03-14T10:28:12-04:00March 26th, 2022|Public Forum|

Is the Sacrificed Lamb of God Violent? More Reflections on Revelation

One argument used to support the idea that the controlling image of Christ in the narrative is the lamb who was slain is that this is how he is introduced in his very first appearance in the book.  Anything that follows must therefore be read in light of this introductory image.  The problem is that this claim is simply not true.  Christ first appears not in chapter 5 as the sacrificial lamb but in chapter 1 as “one like a Son of Man,” (1:13) that is, as the cosmic judge of the earth referred to in Daniel 7, who destroys God's enemies and their rule.  In this opening vision Christ is dressed in a white robe and gold sash, just as the mighty angels who will later pour out the bowls of God’s wrath (15:6).  But he is far mightier than these earth-destroyers.  His hair is white, not to show that he is old and decrepit but to reveal that he is the One who has ruled from eternity past (see Daniel 7:9), the “alpha [...]

2022-03-20T18:46:52-04:00March 24th, 2022|Revelation of John|

Is the Apocalypse of John a Book of Hope?

In my previous post I started giving the lecture I gave recently to a group of professional biblical scholars about how my views of Revelation have changed.  After thinking that the book predicted our future (I gave up on that one forty years ago!) I began to think that the book was a positive message for true followers.  In this reading – which I held for many, many years -- the point of the book is that God is sovereign, just, and loving toward his faithful, and in the end truth will prevail.  Above all, Revelation is a book of hope.   I no longer see it that way and am a bit surprised I did for so many years.  The book of Revelation is not principally about hope, let alone the love of God.  Words for hope -- ελπις / ελπιζω – occur some 80 times in the New Testament, but not once in this book.  And God himself is never said to love his followers in this book and they are never referred [...]

2022-03-14T10:19:18-04:00March 23rd, 2022|Revelation of John|

When I First Read the Book of Revelation….

I recently gave a plenary talk at a regional meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature.  The president of the group asked me to give a talk on Revelation, since that is what I’ve been working on recently, and I cobbled something together based on my book and a few other things.  It was about a 45 minute speech, and I thought it would be useful to reproduce it here in chunks over the course of a few posts. My audience was scholars of religion, most of them professors of biblical studies from the Northeast.  Since there were a wide range of interests and expertise represented there, I decided not to go too heavy with the scholarship.  It’s always hard to gauge an audience you’ve never seen before. Anyway, here is how I started the lecture. ****************************** When I first read the book of Revelation, in August 1973, I did so out of fear, not hope.  Not fear for the fate of the world in light of the coming apocalypse, but fear of my own [...]

2022-03-14T10:13:29-04:00March 22nd, 2022|Bart’s Biography, Revelation of John|

Vote on your favorite Platinum Post!

Dear Platinum members, That time again -- an opportunity for you to vote on one of our Platinum guest posts, to see which one will be posted on the blog at large.  Take a look -- they're all terrific.   To vote, just send a quick note to Diane at [email protected] And remember -- you're always welcome to submit a post yourself.  Anything connected to the blog that strikes your fancy that you'd like others to read about?  Any ideas/thoughts you'd like to have disseminated and discussed?  Here's your chance.  Just zap me a note. But for now:  here are the current options! January 23, 2022 Are the Gospels Too Early To Have Legends About Jesus?  Bob Seidensticker February 4, 2022 Are the Teachings of Jesus Realistic? Douglas Wadeson February 7, 2022 The “Common Era”: Invented to Stop Speculations About the End of the World. Daniel Kohanski February 25, 2022 What If Damascus Was In Arabia? Solving a Dilemma in the Life of Paul. Gregory Hartzler-Miller    

2022-03-21T16:18:35-04:00March 21st, 2022|Platinums|

When Did the Bible Get Chapters and Verses?

One question I get a lot:  where did the Bible’s chapters and verses came from.   Here's a quick answer taken from my textbook on the NT (The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, Oxford University Press; 7th ed., 2020.  Since the answer is so brief, I’ll attach another couple of paragraphs drawn from a nearby page in the book, dealing with another somewhat related and even more important (for many people) problem: when did scholars start to think that the differences in our manuscripts were a VERY big deal? QUESTION: About the numbers of the verses, who put them?  Who divided the text in verses and chapters, and when? RESPONSE: (from my book) Given the fact that ancient manuscripts did not use punctuation, paragraph divisions, or even spaces to separate words, it will come as no surprise to learn that the chapter and verse divisions found in modern translations of the New Testament are not original (as if Paul, when writing Romans, would think to number his sentences and call them [...]

2022-03-25T12:03:58-04:00March 20th, 2022|Public Forum|

Faith and Inerrancy, In My Case — Did the “Young Ehrman” Get it Wrong?

Here I pick up from my previous post about evangelicals misunderstanding my journey of faith, first by repeating its final paragraph: ****************************** My sense is that there is a simple reason that a lot of evangelical apologists think I “threw the baby out with the bathwater” (the baby of faith with the bathwater of fundamentalism).  I might be wrong about this, but my sense is that taking this view allows them to explain why I left the faith without compelling them to address the ACTUAL reasons I did for themselves.   It is easier to caricature me and what happened and to point out my “mistake.”  I do not think that’s true of Kurt Jaros (see my previous post).  I think he has simply misread what I said.  And I can see how that misunderstanding is understandable, so to say.  Here’s why: In Misquoting Jesus, I say the following: This kind of realization coincided with the problems I was encountering the more closely I studied the surviving Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.  It is one [...]

The “Young Ehrman’s” Faulty Understanding of Inspiration

In my previous post I talked about evangelicals who argue that if I had only had the right understanding of evangelical theology, I would not have left the faith once I realized my (errant) views were problematic.  I would say that this is true of the video about me that Kurt Jaros posted a couple of weeks ago, here: I have enjoyed Kurt’s video posts on the blog very much and really appreciate him setting the record straight for evangelicals who have misunderstood or misrepresented my views on textual criticism.  And I decidedly do NOT think that he has “misrepresented” my views about inspiration (the views of the “young Ehrman”).  But I do think he misunderstood them.  He inferred from things I said that I must have held views that in fact I did not hold. The issue has to with the fact that we have so many manuscripts of the New Testament but there are so many *differences* among them.  Kurt says that when I was shocked to learn this, it directly led [...]

Upcoming Debate and Possible Blog Breakfast? Anyone in San Diego March 24?

This next week I'm heading out to San Diego for a debate on March 24 with a Catholic Apologist named Jimmy Akin on the question of whether the Gospels of the New Testament are historically reliable.  I've never debated a Catholic apologist before!  This should be fun. I also (obviously) haven't done a live event in over two years.   So, this will be interesting as well as fun. The event will be live streamed if you're interested, and even if you're not.  Here's the announcement, with ticket information, in case you might want to attend or listen in: Jimmy Akin vs Bart Ehrman - Campaign ( MOREOVER (only distantly conntected):  It turns out I'll be free for breakfast that morning.  I'm happy to do a blog event ((as in live, and in person!) if anyone feels like shlepping out to Del Mar.   I'm thinkin' March 24 at 8:00 am.  Anyone interested?  Just send me an email at [email protected]   There'd be no obligation other than showing up, ordering what you want, eating what you order, and [...]

2022-03-17T17:22:43-04:00March 17th, 2022|Public Forum|

Explanations for Why I Left the Faith

I have often been puzzled by how defenders of the Christian faith attack me and my views by taking the biographical route, pointing out the course of my faith journey, identifying a flaw in it, and then drawing the conclusion that if I had not thought X or been convinced by Y then I would have seen the truth and not been led astray. The way this narrative usually works is this:  “If Ehrman had not been raised a fundamentalist he would have realized… x, y, and z … and he then never would have left the faith”  OR “If Ehrman had not held X view he would not have been so easily swayed when he realized it was wrong” OR “The problem is that Ehrman appears to have thought Y and that’s not at all what true evangelicals think” and so on and on. The reason I find this puzzling is that people get their notions of how I was raised or what I thought from things I’ve written and said and in most [...]

2022-03-13T19:28:21-04:00March 17th, 2022|Public Forum|

Gold Q & A: March 2022!

Dear Gold Members, It is time for our monthly Gold Q&A.  Have a question?  Ask it!  Anything related to the blog! To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] DEADLINE:  You've got a week to come up with something.  Deadine will be Midnight March 23;   We have the recorded session out to you by March 30, if all goes to plan! Send some zingers.  I'm looking forward to it!   Bart  

2022-03-16T12:47:40-04:00March 16th, 2022|Public Forum|

Memories of Ukraine. Guest Post by Douglas Wadeson, MD

In view of our coming fund raiser for Ukraine on Sunday (Fundraiser for Ukraine. Lecture on "Who Killed Jesus? And Why?" | The Bart Ehrman Blog) a long-time blog member and one of my blog advisors, Doug Wadeson, has provided this moving and informative recollection of his times there. ******************** We are all distressed by the events in Ukraine.  My wife and I feel a particular connection to this situation as we have visited Ukraine a number of times and still have friends there.  A missionary friend ran a language college in Simferopol, Crimea although his ultimate goal was to teach Christian values to people raised in officially atheistic communism.  Each year he sponsored a symposium bringing together Ukrainians, Russians, Americans and Europeans in an east-meets-west sort of multidisciplinary meeting where we each presented a paper for discussion and debate, on any number of subjects, but with a particular worldview in mind, usually Christian or atheist.  As a medical doctor I offered to participate.  He also arranged for me to speak at various medical facilities [...]

2022-03-16T12:34:38-04:00March 16th, 2022|Public Forum|

An Eyewitness Account of Jesus’ Crucifixion!

Here is another modern Gospel forgery that has over the years won over readers who have thought it was authentic.  It's intriguing stuff: an eyewitness account of Jesus' death! Again, this is taken from my book Forged: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (HarperOne, 2010). ****************************** An equally interesting modern apocryphon, The Crucifixion of Jesus, by an Eye-Witness, deals not with the beginning of Jesus’ adult life, before his ministry, but with its ending and aftermath. [1] The account comes in the form of a letter written, in Latin, seven years after Jesus’ crucifixion, from a leader of the mysterious Jewish sect of the Essenes in Jerusalem to another Essene leader who lived in Alexandria, Egypt.  All elements of the supernatural are completely stripped away from the account’s description of Jesus’ life and death.  Jesus is shown to have led a completely human life and to have died a completely human death.  But not on the cross.  Jesus survived his own crucifixion and lived for another six months. The account [...]

2022-03-13T19:27:56-04:00March 16th, 2022|Christian Apocrypha, History of Biblical Scholarship|

Debate Announcement! Did the Resurrection of Jesus Really Happen? Two Bible Scholars Debate the Evidence

I would like to announce a major public debate that I will be having with the well-known conservative evangelical apologist Mike Licona on the resurrection of Jesus.  The title is “Did the Resurrection of Jesus Really Happen? Two Bible Scholars Debate the Evidence.”   It will be held remotely on April 9th from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm EST. The debate is not directly connected with the blog but is my own thing, done in conjunction with the courses I've been recording for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services.  There will be a charge for the event.   Some of the profits will be redirected to the blog, and blog members will get a discount (see below). If you have any interest at all, check out the video below. And if you want to learn more or sign up, here is the link: For now: more on the debate. If you are attentive to numbers, you will notice that this debate will be an all-day affair.   Seven hours.  Pray for my soul!  On the upside (for you [...]

2022-03-15T14:21:38-04:00March 15th, 2022|Bart's Debates, Public Forum|

Want a Recording of Upcoming Ukraine Lecture: “Who Killed Jesus? And Why?” ?

Several people have informed me that they will not be able to attend the Ukraine Fundraiser on Sunday March 20, 4:00-5:30 Eastern Time, LIVE but would like to make the donation and receive a RECORDING,  so: Anyone who registers for the event, whether they come to it live or not, will be sent the recording to have for posterity.  The recording will also include the Q&A that follows the lecture. You can make your donation on the blog Home page (scroll to bottom), and you can register & get the Zoom link here. Remember, this is 100% a fundraiser for CARE, which is doing heroic work to help Ukrainians who have had to flee their country, so give what you can. I am personally matching donations up to $10,000.  

2022-03-15T10:22:49-04:00March 14th, 2022|Public Forum|

Our Ukraine Fundraiser: For those who can’t afford it and for those who can donate for them

There are blog members who would love to come to the lecture I'm giving as a fundraiser for Ukraine on Sunday, but simply can't afford the donation (for the information about the event itself, see below).  And so this post is for TWO groups of people. If you yourself can afford to come and would like to donate a "ticket" or several tickets to the event for someone or someones who cannot, please click here to do so. If you can NOT afford the donation amount but would like to come to the lecture click here to register and on the Donation Amount, simply enter $0 or the amount you are able to give.   The blog is not meant to be exclusive but to be open to all.  Many thanks to all for being on it and supporting our causes. Note: for those who wish to donate, but can't attend the lecture live, we will be recording the the talk and will make that available to all donors. Here now is the original announcement again. [...]

2022-03-14T16:34:07-04:00March 14th, 2022|Public Forum|
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